One day I’ll lift the telephone
and be told my father’s dead. He’s ready.
In the sureness of his faith, he talks
about the world beyond this world
as though his reservations have
been made. I think he wants to go,
a little bit—a new desire
to travel building up, an itch
to see fresh worlds. Or older ones.
He things that when I follow him
he’ll wrap me in his arms and laugh,
the way he did when I arrived
on earth. I do not think he’s right.
He’s ready. I am not. I can’t
just say good-bye as cheerfully
as if he were embarking on a trip
to make my later trip go well.
I see myself on deck, convinced
his ship’s gone down, while he’s convinced
I’ll see him standing on the dock
and waving, shouting, Welcome back.
I liked the image of those two ways of seeing death—one standing on the deck of his own boat grieving the drowned ship, one standing on the dock looking forward to welcoming the other when he comes in to shore. The thing that’s nice about this poem is that it respects the beliefs of both the father and the son, honors the faith of one and the grief of the other and re-enacts again their love for each other.